Case Study

Q. How did you react when the riots broke out so near to Whiteley’s shopping centre?
“It is vital that any response to an incident such as this is taken with an efficient and effective decision making process.  Although we have written and tested procedures in place that incorporate the Landlord’s, Managing Agent’s and Centre’s specific demands, a degree of flexibility needs to be given to enable the Senior Manager on duty to be able to act accordingly as the situation naturally develops and changes.  In the incident in question the Centre was still open and trading to the public when the intelligence came through and at the advice and support of the Police we performed a full in-vac having to liaise closely with emergency services, the public and tenants throughout.   Simultaneously, our internal escalation procedures kicked in behind the scenes which utilises both on-site and off-site personnel.”

Q. Public safety must have been your first concern, but in terms of I.T what continuity plan or structure do Whiteley’s have in place to deal with civil unrest?
“The safety of every individual within our building is always our first concern but our procedures are developed so that once the escalation process (or support ‘machine’ if you will) begins to work it takes unnecessary pressure away from those individuals on the ground so that they can concentrate on this priority.  All site main contractors play a crucial role or cog in this machine, whether it be security, cleaning, IT or maintenance for example.  Without these cogs the machine will fail or place unnecessary burden on an operational team who already have their hands full.  Giving those site individuals (and senior management) peace of mind that this support ‘machine’ is there behind the scenes only adds to their ability to be able deal with the incident when it is over or deal quickly with issues if and when they occur.  IT is often an afterthought or deemed unimportant when designing contingency plans but as businesses rely more and more on IT, it is vital that steps are taken to prevent any loss of information and allow business continuity.  It is here where ITVET step into this role, or take on this cog in the machine; this allows us to be safe in knowledge that these issues are not to be of a concern.  By working closely with their specialist team we determined that the following provisions prepare us as a Centre team for any such incident:

Email – ITVET’s partnership with Trend Micro’s leading anti-spam filtering service means we have the ability to divert our emails to a new location at short notice. All emails are queued and filtered for Viruses and Spam.  If in the event of a disaster the building was not accessible; it’s possible to change how emails are handled very quickly. For example if the servers were needed to be  moved to a different location the email delivery IP address could be changed at Trend Micro within a few minutes. No email would be lost, as Trend store all our emails for up to 5 days.

Data Backup – All our business critical data is remotely backed up to an offsite secure location using enterprise level protection.  In the event of our site being in-accessible we can use this data to restore our servers and be back up and running in a relatively short period of time.  Using the highest levels of encryption our data is secured from the moment it leaves the building and when it is stored on our remote storage servers.  We realise that our data is one of our most important assets and we take steps to protect it seriously.

Telephony – The ability to divert calls, announce to all staff using the built in PA system, change our IVR, and enable call forwarding means we are able to easily cope with any outage.  Our phone system’s state of the art telephony uses the latest VOIP technologies and we are able to stay in contact using mobile phones, soft phones, and even get our voicemails sent to our email.

Asset inventory -(ITVET hold this information) – replacement of physical systems – licence keys, data for insurance claims, and quick reaction – supply. Should a catastrophic event happen, it is imperative that there is immediate access to funds/information to enable the purchase of new equipment. Insurance companies can be challenging and time consuming to deal with, so they ensure that this information is updated and relevant.
24 x 7 x 365 support to action any or all of the above.

Q. Without such a plan in place, how do you think your centre would have coped should the mgt offices been targeted by the rioters?  
“Quite simply, it would have become a drain on time and resources to try to track what information, if any, was lost, how any lost information was going to be recovered, to repair any damage and replace equipment as necessary.  These resources could much better be used elsewhere within our contingency plan.”

Q. Were Whiteleys employees able to work remotely from home, if necessary?
Absolutely.  This was set up as part of our initial contract with ITVet for a variety of operational requirements.  This also sits comfortably alongside the Managing Agent’s development of numerous Hosted Applications so that a cross section of work can be accessed and can continue off-site as demand requires.”

Q. Did you find it beneficial that all of your organisations data was backed up remotely?
“Regardless of how good your procedures are it is only as good as the people carrying them out.  By remotely backing up our data it removes the potential for human error from the equation.”

Q. In light of recent events has anything changed in how you would react to a similar attack?
“I think the argument for holding all information either off site or on-line is growing in its appeal and its effectiveness.  By working with IT specialists such as ITVet the risk potential from storage security and information loss reduces and so business continuity becomes a great deal easier, streamlining and improving the operational challenges in dealing with such unfortunate events.”

How Would Your Shopping Centre or Business Cope In A Disaster?